People always ask me how I "get it all done." I don't have some miracle answer but over the last sixteen years of business I have become quite skilled at the Art of Efficiency. Here are a few of my favorite tools:
1. Keep a large ongoing to-do list with all your projects. This larger list is a reference that you can regularly refer back to and use to create your daily to-do lists.
2. At the end of each day create your to-do list for tomorrow. This should be no bigger than an 1/8 of a piece of paper (or a large sticky note). This smaller daily list will probably include some things from your large ongoing list.
3. On your daily to-do list write down the following:
a. One thing that is solely for you. This will keep you refreshed, non-resentful and ready to work. It could be a massage, a yoga class, a walk on the beach, cooking dinner, a bath (okay, that's my list, but you get the idea). Make this your top priority and non-negotiable. I'm not kidding about this. You are the most important person in the world and you can't serve anyone else unless you put yourself first.
b. Three things that are the foot-stamping "I don't wannas." These could be things like answering emails, folding laundry, paying your taxes. The things you have to do, but dread.
c. Three things that are the bounce up and down "I can hardly waits." These are things will grow your career, happiness and create abundance. This could be writing a blog post (hey look! I'm doing that one right now), pitching to a magazine, spending time with your long lost partner. Too often we just sludge through all the I don't wannas and don't leave enough time for the things that bring us joy and propel us forward. That's not a healthy way to live, we all need balance between the things that bring us joy, and the things that we have to do as responsible citizens.
4. When completing tasks, alternate between the "I don't wannas" and the "I can hardly waits" Finish one and then go to the next. Most importantly, don't forget the you-time, it will organize your brain better. If you don't get it all done in a day, just carry it over to your next daily list.
5. I like to do the thing I want to do the least as my first item of the day. This makes the rest of my day seem easier and keeps me from procrastinating.
6. On that note, don't procrastinate or waste time. Use an egg timer and set limits for tasks such as answering email, looking at social media, doing research. It is so easy to distract ourselves with so much information around us and available all the time.
7. Turn off other distractions when you are working (cell phone, television, music, etc), unless these items actually help you focus. I often find that if I need to read something challenging, that putting on headphones with soothing background music helps me focus, but a barrage of text messages will pull my attention away immediately. Choose your distractions wisely.
8. IF you are lucky enough to find extra time DO NOT dive into the projects that are on the larger list. There is ALWAYS something else to be done. Enjoy your free time instead.
9. Clear your desk at the end of each day. A clear desk = a clearer mind. No, you aren't going to lose anything if you do this. You will find it immediately the next morning. Trust me.